Solheim Cup: Suzann Pettersen a 'controversial pick' for Europe
Last Updated: 14/08/19 11:12am
Suzann Pettersen will be under pressure to perform for Team Europe at the Solheim Cup after a surprise wildcard pick, says Richard Kaufman.
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For the third Solheim Cup in a row, Suzann Pettersen will be one of the central talking points.
Four years ago in Germany, there was 'gimmegate' and the controversy over whether an Alison Lee putt had been conceded, then there was the injury ahead of the most recent contest at Des Moines that meant she switched her clubs for a walkie-talkie. Now, we move on to Gleneagles.
Team Europe confirmed for Gleneagles
Catriona Matthew named her four wildcard picks for the 2019 Solheim Cup.
If you had told me a week ago that Pettersen would be chosen as one of Catriona Matthew's four wild cards, I would have been extremely surprised. I'm less so now, but there's no doubt it is still a controversial choice.
After 20 months without playing in competition, Pettersen returned alongside Matthew at the Dow Great Lakes Invitational, a pairs event, where they missed the cut. The Norwegian was then exempt to play the following week at Evian Championship, a major she won six years ago, but she chose not to play.
Pettersen had a baby boy a year ago and her son, Herman, celebrated his first birthday during the opening round at the Ladies Scottish Open, her first individual round since becoming a mother.
The signs of a wildcard pick were there at the Renaissance Club when both Matthew and Pettersen talked up the chances of her being a player rather than a vice-captain against the Americans. Matthew said how Pettersen looked confident and was playing and putting well, with their responses to the subject certainly pointing to the concluding picks.
There was a huge divergence in the draw on the east coast of Scotland on Friday, which went from winter-like conditions in the morning to nothing but sunshine in the afternoon. I watched a decent chunk of Pettersen's rounds and she played decently and didn't look far away.
On average, players on the bad side of the draw scored over six shots more than those on the good side. Mel Reid got the bad side, while Pettersen got the plumb side where every player in the top 15 of the leaderboard had come from, yet both finished on two over and missed the cut.
Pettersen's record as Solheim player is very good and while she may have been the villain of 2015, she had been one of Europe's heroes for their two most recent wins and her record in fourballs is brilliant.
The pressure now to perform will be even greater than that after Sergio Garcia was chosen by Thomas Bjorn ahead of the last Ryder Cup. Sergio handled it but the questions with him were over his form, whereas there is nothing to really point at with Pettersen.
Pettersen hasn't played for the majority of the Solheim Cup qualifying process but if anyone can handle that pressure, it is the Norwegian with the single-minded determination to go along with her undoubted talent.
Goodness knows, though, how the players who fought so hard through the last 18 months are feeling about this, but you run the risk of not being in the team if you don't qualify automatically.
There are some injury concerns over the selection of Jodi Ewart Shadoff and I would be surprised if she could play more than three sessions, as she had to withdraw from the Evian Championship with a bad back - something that forced her to miss events earlier in the year.
As for the other selections, Celine Boutier and Bronte Law were more than justified after both winning on the LPGA Tour this season. Overall, it is a solid, experienced team that will have every chance of winning the Solheim Cup back.
There are three talented rookies in there too and Europe will be up against an American team that will look very different to the one that was victorious two years' ago.